NJ hospitals: Obamacare repeal would slam us

New Jersey hospitals would be hit hard by the repeal of Obamacare if Congress doesn't replace it with a law that would include similar levels of insurance coverage, their trade group said Thursday.

Hospitals  would lose money from both private insurance and Medicaid reimbursements. They would need to treat more consumers who lose their coverage in emergency departments. And both would put a strain on their bottom line, officials said.

"So many of the strides we've made in expanding access to health care — and in reforming our health care system for the future — are now in danger of being walked back," said Betsy Ryan, president and chief executive officer of the New Jersey Hospital Association.

The hospital group joined what is becoming an increasingly intense fight to keep the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

The law, considered former President Barack Obama's signature domestic legislative achievement, is under fire from President Donald Trump and Republican congressional representatives, who have pledged to repeal and possibly replace it — among the issues GOP leaders are discussing in a three-day strategy summit in Philadelphia.

The law requires nearly all Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty. It provides insurance for nearly 800,000 New Jerseyans. And it set ground rules for the nation's $3 trillion health care system. It has cut the state's uninsured  rate in half, but it also has sparked complaints that consumers have to dig deeper into their pockets to pay for care.

New Jersey hospitals have largely come out of the complicated law in decent financial shape. They lost $1.5 billion through lower reimbursements from Medicare and penalties, when they were shown to deliver care that didn't meet quality standards. But they added revenue from consumers who were newly insured.

The result: About 13 percent of the state's hospitals are losing money, compared with one-third of hospitals before the Affordable Care Act went into effect, officials said.

Among the hospital group's concerns:

 

  • Nearly 65,000 residents of  Monmouth and Ocean counties  would lose health insurance they received through the expansion of Medicaid, and 35,000 would lose coverage they bought through the Obamacare marketplace.
  • New Jersey residents would give up $795 million in federal subsidies that help them pay for health insurance.
  • The demand for charity care could soar, just as hospitals have seen funding for charity care cut by $350 million in the last two state budgets.
  • New Jersey's Medicaid program, called NJ FamilyCare, would give up $4.4 billion a year in funding it gets from the federal government.

The GOP has taken steps to repeal parts of the law, but it hasn't yet settled on a replacement.

One idea: Give states a block grant to pay for their Medicaid programs.

Health care experts said that, too, could add to hospitals' financial woes.

"It would likely mean that (New Jersey) would have to reduce the number of people covered under the program, reduce payments to providers, which are already very low, and reduce the scope of services covered," Joel Cantor, director of the Center for State Health Policy at Rutgers University.

Others, however, said block grants would ease the burden on taxpayers and give states a chance to design programs that suited their population.

"Even more important than just block grants, we support fundamental changes to the Medicaid program such as a work requirement that helps people move off of dependency and ensures Medicaid is preserved for the truly indigent/needy," said Erica L. Jedynak, director for Americans for Prosperity-New Jersey, a conservative group. "Work requirements were an unabashed success in the ’96 welfare reform and could be equally effective for Medicaid."

Ryan said additional cuts would hurt hospitals that already agreed to give up revenue through lower Medicare reimbursement and penalties. For example: From 2010 to 2017, Jersey Shore University Medical Center gave up $43.5 million; Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch gave up $21.4 million; and CentraState Medical Center in Freehold Township gave up $16.5 million, according to the hospital association.

In return, it hoped the law would expand the number of consumers with insurance. The Republican replacement proposals so far don't appear to provide coverage to as many consumers as the Affordable Care Act, Ryan said.

"I think there’s got to be another plan or a supplement to some of the things we’ve seen," she said.

Reductions impacting NJ healthcare facilities 2010-17

AtlantiCare Regional Medical..........$43,808,807

Bayshore Community Hospital..........$8,073,704

Bergen Regional Medical Center..........$6,937,277

Cape Regional Medical Center..........$12,871,930

Capital Health Medical Center-Hopewell..........$13,152,558

Capital Health Regional Medical Center..........$14,643,080

CarePoint Health Bayonne Medical Center..........$10,410,912

CarePoint Health Christ Hospital..........$17,577,400

CarePoint Health Hoboken University Medical Center..........$9,847,293

CentraState Medical Center..........$16,458,312

Chilton Medical Center..........$14,087,515

Clara Maass Medical Center..........$23,946,531

Community Medical Center..........$37,106,300

Cooper University Health Care..........$47,517,700

Deborah Heart and Lung Center..........$11,785,836

East Orange General Hospital..........$13,175,207

Englewood Hospital and Medical Center..........$28,793,078

HackensackUMC..........$74,533,982

HackensackUMC at Pascack Valley..........$333,382

HackensackUMC Mountainside..........$16,118,724

HackensackUMC Palisades..........$17,919,941

Hackettstown Medical Center..........$6,001,789

Holy Name Medical Center..........$23,304,135

Hunterdon Medical Center..........$8,465,188

Inspira Medical Center Elmer..........$3,638,689

Inspira Medical Center Vineland..........$25,105,558

Inspira Medical Center Woodbury..........$14,257,223

Jersey City Medical Center..........$22,766,807

Jersey Shore University Medical Center..........$43,473,268

JFK Medical Center..........$28,820,314

Kennedy University Hospital - Cherry Hill..........$39,539,782

Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County..........$7,844,754

Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center..........$4,495,202

Monmouth Medical Center..........$21,364,228

Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus..........$16,208,883

Morristown Medical Center..........$43,487,894

Newark Beth Israel Medical Center..........$49,443,645

Newton Medical Center..........$8,715,878

Ocean Medical Center..........$20,959,469

Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center..........$26,011,964

Overlook Medical Center..........$26,524,970

Raritan Bay Medical Center..........$23,849,755

Riverview Medical Center..........$13,957,158

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital..........$66,208,813

RWJ University Hospital Rahway..........$10,271,453

RWJ University Hospital Hamilton..........$15,080,911

RWJ University Hospital Somerset..........$19,134,737

Saint Barnabas Medical Center..........$42,064,156

Saint Clare's Denville Hospital..........$20,875,148

Saint Michael's Medical Center..........$26,883,351

Saint Peter's University Hospital..........$27,650,166

Shore Medical Center..........$12,169,794

Southern Ocean Medical Center..........$10,390,441

St. Francis Medical Center..........$9,702,598

St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center..........$63,814,585

St. Luke's Warren Campus..........$8,949,723

St. Mary's General Hospital..........$19,399,129

The Memorial Hospital of Salem County..........$6,560,959

The Valley Hospital..........$43,953,788

Trinitas Regional Medical Center..........$22,589,116

University Hospital..........$31,167,992

University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro..........$13,551,961

Virtua..........$29,170,689

Virtua Memorial..........$19,704,330

 

Original Article

TROY SINGLETON
ASSEMBLYMAN, 7TH DISTRICT
400 NORTH CHURCH STREET, SUITE 260
MOORESTOWN, NJ 08057
 
Tel: 856-234-2790
Fax: 856-234-2957
Email: AsmSingleton@njleg.org